Real Estate on South Padre Island

Real Estate Agent with Service 24 Real Estate

My business partner, EJ Wilkerson, and I wrote this article to appear in The Guide to South Padre Island, which is a publication of the South Padre Island Chamber of Commerce, for the convenience of our visitors.  I thought it would be an appropriate way to introduce you to our area.

"Despite stumbles in other markets, South Padre Island and the lower Laguna Madre area have seen a healthy increase in the market value of all types of property, regardless of location or style over the past decade. Two major reasons for this increase are the large numbers of people continuing to move to our region and the realization that our region has been largely under-valued compared to other coastal locations. The increasing population and international attention have benefited the area with the expansion of business, educational, and recreational opportunities.  While vacation and investment property buyers are facing the challenge of affordability for coastal property in other parts of the country, buyers in South Padre Island and the lower Laguna Madre areas can reap the benefits.

The rediscovery of this hidden paradise should come as no surprise.  The natural blessings of our coastal area have for generations attracted individuals who could envision the potential.

Colonel Sam Robertson was just one such individual.  In the 19th century, Padre Island real estate centered on ranching, but that concept changed dramatically in the 20th century when Robertson dared to view the Island as a resort. Ferry service was established and two hotels were constructed - the Twenty-Five Mile Hotel and the Sportsman's Hotel, also known as the casino.

With the completion of the Queen Isabella Causeway in 1954, real tourism began.  John L. Tompkins stepped forward to attempt to make this Gulf island a resort playground.  Tompkins commissioned a conceptual drawing to translate his vision onto paper and it is very close to how South Padre looks today.   Tompkins began to sell lots - $1,250 for a beachfront lot and $250 for an interior residential lot.

In 1964 the Port Mansfield Gulf Channel was completed and Padre Island was divided into two.  By 1969 a few hotels and condominiums had been built along with beach cottages and the occasional luxurious home.  Dramatic change came in 1974 when the new Queen Isabella Causeway was erected to carry the ever-increasing volume of traffic between Port Isabel on the mainland and South Padre Island.

By the mid-1980s, South Padre was a growing Gulf Coast resort and the late 1990s saw even more expansion as building cranes became part of the skyline, new families moved in, and more visitors discovered the Island. 

Many who visit are drawn to owning a bit of paradise, either as a primary residence or a vacation/second home or as an investment (or a combination). In addition, the changing pattern of retirement, fueled by technology, has provided opportunities for property owners to split their work and leisure time between their primary and second homes.

Many property owners on the Island started as renters on vacation.  They began to ask questions.  Could they become property owners, enjoy it when they want to and be able to earn some rental income, take advantage of tax benefits, accrue equity, and see the value of their property increase?  Could they move here as a primary residence and enjoy coastal living full-time?    The answer is "yes".

A recent study by the National Association of Realtors stated, "Ownership of more than one home is increasingly common.  A 2005 National Association of Realtors survey of homebuyers found that 15% of recent buyers owned two or more homes.  In addition, approximately 40% of home sales in 2005, equivalent to more than 3.3 million new- and existing home sales, were second homes."  The survey also "noted that their interest in water sports was one of the motivations for purchasing" for over half of the vacation home owners.

In considering a purchase of resort property, a buyer, often in consultation with a professional Realtor, will weigh the merits of types, sizes, and locations of properties on the market, will decide whether the property  will be in a rental pool, and may consider the possibility to transfer tax deferred equity via a 1031 tax deferred exchange.

In diversifying, a buyer may also weigh the merits of purchasing pre-construction property.  A developer determines the demand for the condominium project or subdivision project through pre-construction sales and gives incentives to prospective buyers early in the process since a buyer is being asked to purchase something that is still intangible. During the course of construction, prices typically increase thereby enhancing the probability that an early purchaser will accrue equity in the property before construction is completed.

Property management companies located on the Island offer varied services to the owner/investor regarding rental properties and the buyer will want to evaluate these services, such as fees, variety of services offered, hours of operation, and internet presence.  There is also a growing segment of property owners who choose to use technology and local contacts to enable them to manage their own rental properties.

The land within the present boundaries and to the north of the Town of South Padre Island is limited and developers/investors are stepping forward to take advantage of the remaining tracts and lots. According to the Coastal Texas 2020 study by the Texas General Land Office, Texas has approximately 367 miles of shoreline along the Gulf of Mexico and approximately 26 miles or 7% remain available for additional development or to add to the substantial amount already considered coastal natural resource areas.    New projects have been announced in 2007 and others are on the drawing board.   Regarding future development to the north of the present Town, studies are underway to gather data regarding infrastructure and environmental issues, including the possibility of a desalination plant as well as a second causeway.

The land to the north of the Town of South Padre Island offers the best of both worlds - land that may be developed as well as land that has been set aside to hold in safe-keeping for the benefit of generations to come.  The continuing evolvement of South Padre Island now lies with the current generation of dreamers and doers who are providing the determining impulse to continue the evolution of our Gulf Coast isle."

Comments (8)

The Trumm Team Omaha Homes for Sale, Real Estate
Keller Williams Greater Omaha - Omaha, NE

Welcome to ActiveRain!

If you would like a few tips on getting the most out of ActiveRain, please visit my blog Welcome to Active Rain.  It has a few simple steps of what to do now that you have joined.

If you ever have any questions, just let me know.

Troy Trumm
Apr 07, 2008 12:49 PM
Marie Ferrier
Service 24 Real Estate - South Padre Island, TX

Thanks for the welcome, Troy.  I'll definitely check out your site and will remember to contact you with questions. 

We are a popular destination for Winter Texans who are fleeing cold winters and searching for balmy weather.  We see a lot of Nebraska plates during the winter.  If you or any of your clients are interested in property that can serve as a winter retreat and also bring in some rental income the rest of the year, please contact me.

You might want to check our web site

Thanks, again.



Apr 07, 2008 01:51 PM
Kirk Westervelt
Van West Realty - Greenville, SC Realtor -Short Sale Expert! - Greenville, SC
Kirk Westervelt, Broker In Charge, Van West Realty - CDPE - Short Sale Agent - Home for Sale - Greenville, Simpsonvil...

Wow, what a great article! I feel like I know your town!

Marie, welcome to Active Rain!


Apr 07, 2008 02:05 PM
Stefan Geyer
SOA Realty - Aurora, CO

I would love to see some pictures.  I've heard great thing about Padre Island, but no pictures.  You can add alot of value as an area expert, and demonstrate the appeal of the area.  I wish you the very best and great success.


Stefan Geyer / 


Apr 07, 2008 04:55 PM
Keith Elliott Jr
KEIRE Realty Group - Manassas, VA
Principal Broker/Owner

Hello Marie,

Welcome to Active Rain and congrats on your first post! The opportunities to learn and network are incredible here. Best of luck to ya!


Apr 07, 2008 04:59 PM
Brad Andersohn
Retired Executive Director of Education at eXp - Boulder Creek, CA
ActiveBrad - 707.646.1876
Hi Marie -

I see this is your first post on Active Rain.  Congratulations!!  I just wanted to welcome you to a fantastic Real Estate Industry Network!  Welcome aboard, I hope you'll continue to Blog, and invite others.  

I’ve added a link to a post called, “NEW MEMBERS – Start Here” that will hopefully get you up and running with the least amount of effort, and also help you to navigate around Active Rain more efficiently.

I hope you'll find this to be a useful post in helping you get started. 

Again, welcome to Active Rain, the best place to start, and have a Blogging experience!

Good Luck to you and your business!  B-)
Apr 07, 2008 05:38 PM
Dorene Shirley
The Mortgage & Property Connection - Campbell, CA
Silicon Valley Real Estate

Merrie - Welcome to the Rain, make sure that you browse the site and become familiar with everything this site has to offer.  The more you browse the more you will learn.  I have found this site to be really helpful to me.  If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to email me, I will do whatever I can to help.

Apr 07, 2008 11:30 PM
Marie Ferrier
Service 24 Real Estate - South Padre Island, TX

A big thanks to all for the great welcome!  I'm looking forward to learning more about Active Rain and becoming a part of a great and productive real estate network.

In response to the request for photos, I always enjoy sharing photos to showcase our tropical location.  So stay tuned.

Apr 08, 2008 04:53 AM